Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: Train Travel

Traveling Tuesday: Train Travel 
 
Until the completion of the first transcontinental railroad here in the U.S., travelers used wagons and stagecoach to travel long distances. The roads were only rough dirt paths that sometimes ended abruptly or included dangerous water crossings. In addition, pioneers had to worry about keeping themselves and their livestock (especially the oxen that pulled the wagon) alive. 
 
Time was another important factor in wagon journeys. It was imperative that settlers reach their destinations before winter. Depending on terrain, weather, and the travelers’ health, covered wagons could traverse eight to twenty miles per day, taking up to six months to get where they were going. 

Needless to say, people flocked to the railroad which stretched nearly 2,000 miles between Iowa, Nebraska, and California. Travel time was reduced to a mere four days, but the experience differed widely between first and third class. 
 
At the price of $134.50 (today’s equivalent: $2,700), first-class featured beautifully appointed cars with plush velvet seats that converted into sleeping berths. Steam heat, gilt-framed mirrors, fresh linens, and
porters added to the ambiance. For an extra four dollars per day, travelers could get first-class dining onboard with meals of antelope, trout, berries, and champagne. As one passenger said, “the ride was not only tolerable but comfortable, and not only comfortable, but a perpetual delight. At the end of our journey, we found ourselves not only wholly free from fatigue, but completely rehabilitated in body and spirits.” 
 
For those or unable to pay the exorbitant cost of first-class, third class was available for only $40—less than half the price. However, at this rate, there were no luxuries. The cars were fitted with rows of narrow wooden benches. These coach cars were also shunted aside to make way for express trains, which meant a longer journey for those passengers, perhaps ten or more days. However, few complained. After all, ten days sitting on a hard bench was more tolerable than walking for six months alongside a wagon. Second-class was little better with upholstered seats rather than benches. 
 
Unfortunately, racism also road the rail. In 1879, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson came to the United States and took the train from New York to California to see the woman he would eventually marry. He noted that there was an entire car for Chinese passengers. African-Americans weren’t treated much better. 
 
Train travel could also be dangerous. Many miles of track encroached on Native American lands. When possible the tribes would destroy the rails and do whatever they could to disrupt operations. In addition, the weather could impact the trip, such as the weeks-long snowstorm that struck Wyoming in 1872. 
 
Then there were train robberies. 

The first occurred on October 6, 1866, when the Reno brothers boarded a passenger train near Seymour, Indiana. Wearing masks and toting guns, they emptied a safe and tossed another out the window before making their escape. The Pinkerton Detective Agency caught the criminals, but this incident set off a long and deadly era of train robberies in the U.S. 
 
Railroad travel continued well into the 20th century, reaching their peak length of trackage in 1916 with over a quarter-million miles of tracks. 

_______________________
 
A brand-new widow, she’s doesn’t need another man in her life. He’s not looking for a wife. But when danger thrusts them together, will they change their minds...and hearts? 
 
Hannah Lauman’s husband has been murdered, but rather than grief, she feels...relief. She decides to remain in Georgia to work their gold claim, but a series of incidents makes it clear someone wants her gone...dead or alive. Is a chance at being a woman of means and independence worth risking her life?
 
Jess Vogel never breaks a promise, so when he receives a letter from a former platoon mate about being in danger, he drops everything to help his old friend. Unfortunately, he arrives just in time for the funeral. Can he convince the man’s widow he’s there for her protection not for her money? 
 
Gold Rush Bride: Hannah is the first book in the exciting new series Gold Rush Brides. Steeped in romance, intrigue, and history, the story will keep you turning pages long into the night.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3t1NpPb

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Rebecca Duvall Scott!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Rebecca Duvall Scott


Linda: Congratulations on your release When Dignity Came to Harlan. The story is inspired by your great-grandmother’s childhood. What made you decide to write the novel, and what is the significance of the title? 

Rebecca: When I was a little girl, my grandmother told me stories about our ancestors. My favorite was about her mother, who moved with her family in a covered wagon from Missouri to Kentucky in hope of building a better life. When they got to town, however, they were dirt poor, had no food, nor did they have a place to live! Not knowing what else to do, the parents parceled their daughters out to strangers to work for their room and board with the promise they’d be back for them… but they never came back. My great-grandmother was 5 years old at the time, and she grew up in a cruel foster home. Somehow, however, she overcame all the hardship with old-fashioned grit and faith and went on to marry and have 6 children. 

My family often calls me the story-keeper, and my great-grandmother’s story has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. It has been a dream come true to finally publish When Dignity Came to Harlan, but more than that, the truth in the story deserved to come to light so it could help countless other people like my great-grandmother feel less alone with the hardships in their own pasts. Based on true family history, this is a story of heartbreak and hope, challenges and perseverance, good and evil, justice, and merciful redemption. It exemplifies the human experience in all its many facets! 

I chose the title with great care. In the book, the main character is nicknamed Dignity by an old friend who peddles his wisdom along with his wares. He sees something in her that she doesn’t yet see in herself, but by the end of the story she not only understands what it means to have dignity – but she has taught the whole town the important life lesson as well. 

LM: You’ve also written non-fiction. How was the process of writing your novel different from non-fiction? The same? 

Rebecca: Interesting you ask because I often feel like two different authors in one body! My first published book was a self-help memoir about my son’s journey following a sensory processing disorder diagnosis. Sensational Kids, Sensational Families: Hope for Sensory Processing Differences chronicles all the research, interventions, and mindset shifts that helped our family most and is geared toward other struggling parents and professionals. While I blended in anecdotes that let my creative writing side shine – it just wasn’t the same as writing my beloved Christian historical fiction! 

When Dignity Came to Harlan worked within me for a long time. I grew to know these characters, inside and out, and love them as I do my own family. I could see their story unfolding and often holed-up for hours on end honing each scene with careful attention to detail. I wanted the reader to be pulled into the book, to see what they saw and feel what they felt. Where my memoir writing is more about getting the facts on the page, my fiction writing is like sculpting. You start with an idea like a lump of clay and work it, shaving pieces off and adding to, until it is just how you want it. 
 
LM: Research is an important aspect of writing. How did you go about researching When Dignity Came to Harlan

Rebecca: I wanted the period details throughout the book to be as accurate as possible, so I researched
Harlan, Kentucky to get an idea of the coal mines and landscape for the setting first. Since the story is set in the early 1900s, more specifically 1918-1920, I also researched little things, like when electric lights and indoor plumbing started coming into the homes, when covered wagons and early motorized vehicles could co-exist, and especially the legal system in Kentucky concerning rape and wife-beating. 

LM: What do you do to prepare yourself for writing (e.g. listen to music, set up in a certain place, etc.), and how do you juggle it with your other responsibilities? 

Rebecca: In addition to writing, I am married with two children, one of which has special needs, we homeschool, and I also direct a local homeschool cooperative organization. Busy is an understatement, especially now that I have two books out and am doing blogs, podcasts, news interviews, and marketing! Writing is not a chore to be added to the list, however. Writing is my safe place – a place away from the world where I can go to relax and unwind through endless creativity. 

I do not write every day, though… but you can believe that even if I’m not writing, I’m thinking about my next book. I think deeply about each story and let the details form in my mind and heart before I put pen to paper. Once inspired, however, life must stop. I hole up in a room to eat, sleep, and breathe the story until it is told. It usually takes me 1-2 weeks to draft a book from start to finish, and my family knows that when I’m in one of those writing spurts, they will scavenge and find their own meals, entertainment, and more while the house (dishes, laundry, cleaning) falls in around us. They are patient and kind, though, knowing that once the story is told, I will jump back in full steam as wife and mom. After a book is drafted, the real work begins. It takes anywhere from 3-6 months to go through a hand-picked editorial board and finally on to the publisher. Then I start imagining the next story… 

LM: What is one thing you wish you knew how to do? 

Rebecca: I wish I was more business-minded! I know many people who have great success in self-publishing, but I just can’t handle all the stress that goes with the behind-the-scenes. Writing the book is one thing, but getting it typeset, cover designed, uploaded with all that entails, and watching the backside of whatever distribution platform are skills just not in my wheelhouse. I am very lucky I married a CPA who is running the business portion of my author career, and I really love my publisher who is in my corner 100%. 

LM: What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? 

Rebecca: When I was 14 years old, I won the Young Authors Contest at the school, county, and state levels. It was a big deal, and a reporter came to my house to photograph a “day in the life” type article. He wanted to know where I did most of my writing, so I put my notebook in my backpack and scaled about thirty feet into a tree in my front yard! There was a perfect fork I sat in when I wrote back then… but little did I know that picture would take up half the page in the local newspaper when the article released! I loved climbing way up there and getting lost in my own world, but I didn’t necessarily want to be known as the girl who wrote in trees for the rest of my adolescence! 

LM: What is your next project? 

Rebecca: I am currently working on the sequel to When Dignity Came to Harlan. It is drafted and beginning the editorial board phase. The Dignity Series will have at least 3 books in it, maybe more, and I also plan to write more in my memoir work, the Sensational Series. After that, who knows? Wherever God leads my heart. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Rebecca: My website is a great place to connect – www.RebeccaDuvallScott.com – and I’m also on social media. Here are a few of my handles: 


About When Dignity Came to Harlan: 


Skillfully written and sure to draw you into its pages, When Dignity Came to Harlan is set in the early 1900s and follows twelve-year-old Anna Beth Atwood as she leaves Missouri with her family dreaming of a better life in the coal-rich mountains of Harlan County, Kentucky. Anna Beth’s parents lose everything on the trip, however, and upon asking strangers to take their girls in until they get on their feet, Anna Beth and her baby sister are dropped into the home of Jack and Grace Grainger – who have plenty of problems of their own. Anna Beth suffers several hardships during her time in Harlan, and if it wasn’t for her humble and wise old friend who peddles his wisdom along with his wares, all would be lost. Take the journey with us and see how, with the unseen hand of God, one girl changed the heart and soul of an entire town.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Fiction Friday: New April Releases

April 2021 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Speculative Fiction:

Traitor: Tales of the Mystics, Book 2 by Laurie Lucking -- Princess Penelope has finally found a way to redeem her past mistakes-if only it didn't require betraying her new fiancé. She has been the object of gossip and ridicule ever since she returned home in disgrace following her failed engagement to the Crown Prince of Imperia. When her father offers a new start in a country far across the sea, she has no choice but to accept. Even if it means another betrothal, this time to a total stranger. (Speculative Fiction/Romantic Fantasy from Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Where Grace Appears by Heidi Chiavaroli -- A contemporary twist on the well-loved classic, Little Women, readers will fall in love with the Martin family—Maggie, Josie, Lizzie, Bronson, Amie, and their mother Hannah—each trying to find their own way in the world and each discovering that love, home, and hope are closer than they appear. (General Contemporary from Hope Creek Publishers)

Second Helpings by Linda Wood Rondeau -- Can her marriage be saved? Today is Jocelyn Johnson’s forty-fifth birthday. Unhappy with her marriage of twenty-two years, she has planned a noonday tryst with her talk-show cohost. A phone call from her college daughter, a peek into her teenaged son’s journal, a sick preschooler, a Goth daughter’s identity crisis, a middle-school son’s prank, and her husband’s inflamed suspicions, not only interfere with her hopeful birthday plans but throw her family into more chaos than a circus on steroids. (General Contemporary from Elk Lake)

Contemporary Romance:


Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter -- It’s finally time for Sophie Lawson to follow her own pursuits. Brother Seth has a new job, and sister Jenna is set to marry her college beau in Piper’s Cove. But the destination wedding reunites Sophie with best man Aiden Maddox, her high school sweetheart who left her without a backward glance. When an advancing hurricane strands Aiden in Piper’s Cove after the wedding, he finds the hotels booked to capacity and has to ask Sophie to put him up until the storm passes. As the two ride out the weather, old feelings rise to the surface. The delay also leaves Sophie with mere days to get her bookshop up and running. Can she trust Aiden to stick around? And will he find the courage to risk his heart? (Contemporary Romance from Harper Collins Christian Publishing)

General Historical:

The Storm Breaks Forth by Terri Wangard -- World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German born, and anti-German hysteria is running high. Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance. Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy. He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. (General Historical, Independently Published)
Historical Romance:

Bent Tree Bride by Denise Weimer -- Susanna Moore can’t get him out of her mind—the learned lieutenant who delivered the commission from Andrew Jackson making her father colonel of the Cherokee Regiment. But the next time she sees Lieutenant Sam Hicks, he’s leading a string of prisoners into a frontier fort, and he’s wearing the garb of a Cherokee scout rather than the suit of a white gentleman. As both Susanna’s father and Sam’s commanding officer, Colonel Moore couldn’t have made his directive to stay away from his daughter clearer to Sam. He wants a better match for Susanna—like the stuffy doctor who escorted her to Creek Territory. Then a suspected spy forces Moore to rely on Sam for military intelligence and Susanna’s protection, making it impossible for either to guard their heart. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Biltmore Girl by Dawn Klinge -- New York City, 1968. Elka Hansen, a former teen cover girl, is done with modeling. Now she's a hostess for the Palm Court restaurant in the beautiful Biltmore Hotel. As she sees it, Elka's other job is to watch out for her younger sister, Colleen, an idealistic but reckless college student at Barnard. With her sister, Elka attends her first civil-rights protest, and there, she runs into Jacob Lewis, a co-worker from the Biltmore. He's a student at Columbia University and a friend of Colleen's. Jacob becomes an unexpected ally when rescuing her sister from trouble becomes more than Elka can handle independently. Out of this turmoil, a romance grows between Jacob and Elka, but can it last? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Rekindling Trust by Sandra Ardoin -- Abandonment. Betrayal. Injustice. Two broken hearts given a second chance to mend. Widow Edythe Westin yearns for a peaceful home and independence from her controlling father. The goal seems within reach until her rebellious young son is suspected of arson and assault. With nowhere else to turn, she defies her father and appeals for help from the only man she ever loved—the man who once deserted her when she needed him most. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Mystery:

Blue Plate Special by Susan Page Davis -- Campbell McBride drives to her father’s house in Murray, Kentucky, dreading telling him she’s lost her job as an English professor. Her father, Bill McBride, isn’t there or at his office in town. His brash young employee, Nick Emerson, says Bill hasn’t come in this morning, but he did call the night before with news that he had a new case. When her dad doesn’t show up by late afternoon, Campbell and Nick decide to follow up on a phone number he’d jotted on a memo sheet. They learn who last spoke to her father, but they also find a dead body. The next day, Campbell files a missing persons report. When Bill’s car is found, locked and empty in a secluded spot, she and Nick must get past their differences and work together to find him. (Mystery from Scrivenings Press LLC)

Spring Betrayal by Sally Jo Pitts -- It was supposed to be a routine investigation—catch the cheatin’ spouse of a client. And the perks weren’t bad either—set up shop at a luxury resort. So yes, Robert Grey and Jane Carson from Grey Investigations are on the job. But when they discover the suspect is a princess wrongfully accused of abdicating and her companion dies under suspicious circumstances, the investigators find themselves in the middle of a Caribbean conspiracy to overthrow a monarchy. Suddenly Jane must take the place of the princess to secure the throne of an island nation. Can Grey Investigations untangle a royal mess before a revolution overtakes paradise? (Mystery/Crime from Winged Publications)

Thriller/Suspense:


Long Shadows by Cathe Swanson -- Mona Vickers isn't running. Not hiding. She and the girls are just keeping a low profile until she's done with school and gets a good job. She doesn't need charity, especially not from Roy Strough and the Unity Plenkiss Community Center, either. But when the past catches up with her, she needs to decide who she can trust. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard -- Former FBI Special Agent Jack Tanner is working as a detective in Montana when he comes across a body in the national forest during a search and rescue mission. He's committed to finding the killer, even if it means working alongside his old flame, US Forest Service Special Agent Terra Connors. When Terra discovers that the murder victim had ties to a powerful and dangerous trafficker of archaeological artifacts, the investigation takes a deadly turn--one that hits too close to home. As Terra fears she lacks the courage to face what comes next, Jack is more determined than ever to protect her. But he's failed her before. And if he fails this time, it will cost them far more than just their hearts. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Revell)

Shielding the Amish Witness by Mary Alford -- Seeking refuge in Amish country puts everyone she loves in danger. On the run after discovering her brother-in-law was behind her husband’s murder, Faith Cooper can think of only one safe place—her Amish grandmother’s home. But when danger follows Faith to the quiet Amish community, her childhood friend Eli Shetler is her only protection. And their survival depends on outlasting a relentless killer…one who has nothing left to lose. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Fifty Days by Katie Vorreiter -- Three days ago, Maggie Lehman’s beloved mentor and friend, Jarrett Adams, was murdered on live television. Grief stricken, Maggie traverses a Washington DC under curfew, but when she arrives at the morgue, the body is missing—and her presence is recorded on the security video. As dawn breaks over the city, Maggie encounters Jarrett on the street—and he’s very much alive. Either she’s gone mad—again—or Jarrett really is back. While the US loses its grip on democracy, government thugs eager to contain what Maggie knows hound her every step, and the good intentions of a man from her past only tighten the noose. The powerless and bewildered Maggie seeks Jarrett and the return to how things were, but finds she must give up what she wants most to gain what she can hardly imagine. (Thriller/Suspense/Supernatural from Elk Lake Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
 
 
The Vanishing at Loxby Manor by Abigail Wilson, After five years abroad, Charity Halliwell finally returns to Loxby Manor, the home of dear friends—and her lost love. When her friend, Seline, disappears the very night of her arrival, Charity is determined to uncover the truth. (Historical Mystery)

 
 
Hunt for Grace by Andrew Huff, First he left the CIA. Then he left pastoral ministry. Now John Cross has been imprisoned in one of Great Britain's most infamous prisons. Has he reached the end of his rope? Or is this another move in a dangerous spy game? (Thriller/Suspense)

 
 
Sword of Trust by DebbieLynn Costello, The stakes are high, secrets prevail, and treason is just a kiss away. (Historical Romance)

 
 
Deadly Heartbreak by Marissa Shrock, Georgia discovers a limerick scrawled on the wall of her kitchen that dares her to solve a mystery designed specifically for her. A mystery that promises to be quite deadly. For her. For Cal. And for anyone who gets in the murderer’s way. (Cozy Mystery)

 
 
Secondhand Sunsets by Gail Kittleson, The day’s warmth still hovered, and with it, a sense that all was well. The sky flamed for several more minutes. This beauty and my love for you are one. She hugged the message close. “Perhaps, after all, I am loved.” (Historical Romance)

 
 
The Egyptian Princess: A Story of Hagar by KD Holmberg, Torn between the silent gods of Egypt and the powerful presence that surrounds Sarai, Hagar's world falls apart around her. She must acknowledge the terrible price of truth, and decide for herself who she will serve. (General Historical)

 
 
Love and Joy by Elsie Davis, Can these two put their differences aside long enough to discover what’s really important? (Contemporary Romance)

 
 
Dreams Rekindled by Amanda Cabot, But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who's determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon's livelihood. (Historical Romance)

 
 
Amish Midwives by Amy Clipson, Shelley Shepherd Gray, and Kelly Long, From bestselling authors of Amish Fiction come three sweet stories about new life, hope, and romance. (Amish Romance)

 
 
Inheritance by Colleen K. Snyder, Three hundred MILLION dollars. Your inheritance. Buy anything you want, go anywhere you want, do anything you want. All yours. Except… (Thriller/Suspense)

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Terri Wangard!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Terri Wangard!


Linda: Congratulations on your upcoming release The Storm Breaks Forth. What was your inspiration for this story? 

Terri: My last book, Roll Back the Clouds, was about the Lusitania disaster. The main characters lived next door to Peter and Maren Bloch, who lent themselves very nicely to this story. I’ve wanted to do a story with German immigrants to Wisconsin, as so many of my ancestors were. They came mostly in the 1870s-1880s, but this story still allowed me to explore the German heritage of Milwaukee. 

LM: Set during WWI, the book explores the anti-German feelings that were prevalent in the U.S. at the time. Race and prejudice are currently hot topics. Did you set out to address those themes, and how can readers relate your historical story to today? 

Terri: I wasn’t thinking of the political mayhem so much when I started, but it certainly mirrors the times. While I was writing, the Covid pandemic began. That echoes the Spanish flu pandemic which is featured in The Storm Breaks Forth. The good news is, the flu pandemic died down and life continued. The political situation eased in the 1920s, but I don’t see a parallel with today. 

LM: Research is an important aspect of writing, especially historical fiction, and you obviously take it seriously, having flown in a WWII B-17 Bomber. What sort of things did you do to research The Storm Breaks Forth? 

Terri: Nothing as exciting as riding in a Flying Fortress! I found excellent books about Milwaukee and
the Wisconsin National Guard in World War 1. I read a lot about before America joined the war, when there was so much static trench warfare, that gave me a real flavor of the war. I saw the movie 1917, which allowed me to see an underground bunker. That was so helpful. 

LM: How did the pandemic impact your writing? 

Terri: It barely did. I’m naturally isolated, working in a home office. The library did close for a while. That hurt, because I needed one of my main sources to verify events. When curbside service was offered, I was first in line, and I kept renewing that book until I finished writing. 

LM: Your Promise for Tomorrow series is set during WWII, and your last two books are set in the era of the Great War. What differences do you see between the time periods? Similarities? 

Terri: Clothing, hair, and opportunities are the big differences for women, who didn’t have the vote yet. Also, the army relied on horses and mules for transport in WWI. Women worked in factories in both wars. And both had rationing. I think the nation pulled together more in WWII than WWI. The country was a lot more fractured by the war hysteria. German-Americans were tarred and feathered, hounded by vigilantes, even a lynching. 

LM: What is your favorite time period and why are you drawn to that particular era? 

Terri: My first book is set during WWII because I based it on family history. Plus, I enjoy reading WWII books. I switched to WWI because the Lusitania fascinates me, and The Storm Breaks Forth is a natural extension to Roll Back the Clouds. And with Storm, I’m imagining what life was like for my family in Milwaukee. Family history in other time periods also tempts me to write in those settings (although I doubt I will). So, family history is my pull. Leaving the family out of it, I think I’m more drawn to WWII and am now exploring a new writing project in that era. Why? Maybe because I’ve read more and watched more movies and TV shows on WWII. 
 
LM: How do you juggle working full time with your writing career? 

Terri: My writing takes place on weekends. During the week, I’ll research. If I wake up in the middle of the night and a scene starts unfolding, I’ll write it down because I’ll be sure to forget otherwise. But I can’t write for an hour early in the morning or at night. Just doesn’t work for me. I spend enough time on the computer during the day. 

LM: What is your next project? 

Terri: Next is a novella that was partially published. It started as a short story in The Hope of Christmas historical collection. Then known as “The Christmas Typhoon,” it featured a sailor’s point of view, with letters from his girlfriend. Now Evelyn’s point of view has been added. Rather than being a Rosie the Riveter, she’s a Winnie the Welder, building submarines. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Terri: 
Twitter: @terriwangard 
Instagram: @terriwangard 

About The Storm Breaks Forth: 

World War I rages in Europe, and now the United States joins in. Peter Bloch heads to France with the Wisconsin National Guard, but his wife Maren is the one under attack. She’s German-born, and anti-German hysteria is running high. 

Simple suggestions for coping with wartime measures lead Maren into an active role in the community, but her service doesn’t help deflect suspicion from her. Zealous patriots target her with a vengeance.

Peter caught the eye of a major who seems intent on using him as a spy. He’s been fortunate to avoid injury so far, but these activities are likely to get him killed. Peter and Maren dream of the day they will be reunited, but more and more, that day appears to be a mirage.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Mystery Monday: Golden Age Detective Father Brown

 Mystery Monday: Golden Age Detective Father Brown 

Have you ever devoured a series of books by an author only to discover you’ve reached the end of the line? That the author has either retired or passed away and no more stories would be forthcoming? 

 That happened to me quite a few years ago with G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown series. I was making my way through Golden Age detective fiction when I stumbled on his short stories. I was devastated when I learned he’d been long gone by the time I started reading his works. (Yes, John Peterson has written over forty additional Father Brown stories, and as good as they are, they’re not the same.

Vastly different from Graham Greene, Dashiell Hammett, S.S. Van Dine, and Raymond Chandler, Chesterton was a prolific writer. He penned around eighty books, several hundred poems, more than two hundred short stories, four thousand essays, and several plays. Long before he began to delve into fiction, he was a columnist for a variety of publications including his own G.K.’s Weekly. He even wrote articles for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

Chesterton was born on May 29, 1874 in Kensington, London and baptized into the Church of

England, even though his family was Unitarian. Somewhere during his youth, he and his brother became interested in the occult and dabbled with Ouija boards. He credits his wife Frances with leading him back to Anglicanism after their marriage in 1901. By 1922, he’d converted to Catholicism. 

The first Father Brown story, The Blue Cross, was published in 1910. Described as a short, stumpy Roman Catholic priest, “with shapeless clothes, a large umbrella, and an uncanny insight into human evil,” the good father is loosely based on the Rt. Rev. Msgr. John O’Connor, a parish priest who was involved in the author’s conversion. Father Brown is often assisted by the reformed criminal M. Hercule Flambeau. 

Rather than deductive like Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown tends to solve the crimes with intuition, saying in The Secret of Father Brown, “You see, I had murdered them all myself...I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully. I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done, and in what style or state of. Mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was.” After nabbing the killer, he would then wander off to exercise his priestly role. 

Father Brown has appeared in film, including two German adaptations, radio, and television, the most recent of which ran from 2012 to 2019 and starred Mark Williams. 

Are you a fan? 

__________________________ 

The dream of a lifetime becomes a nightmare. 

Photojournalist Theodora “Teddy” Schafer’s career has hit the skids thanks to rumors of plagiarism. With any luck, a photo spread with Charles Lindbergh at the America First Rally will salvage her reputation. After an attempted assassination of Lindbergh leaves another man dead, Teddy is left holding the gun. Literally. Can she prove her innocence before the police lock her up for a murder she didn’t commit? 

Private Investigator Ric Bogart wants nothing to do with women after his wife cleaned out their bank account and left him for another man, but he can’t ignore the feeling he’s supposed to help the scrappy, female reporter who is arrested for murder at the America First rally. Can he believe her claims of innocence and find the real killer without letting Teddy steal his heart?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2NYnGI5

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Traveling Tuesday: The Vast State of Wyoming

Traveling Tuesday: Wyoming 

 
In honor of the release of Rayne’s Redemption, we’re going to visit the vast state of Wyoming. The tenth-largest state by area, it is the least populous and least densely populated state in the contiguous United States. Its borders are Montana to the north and northwest, South Dakota and Nebraska to the east, Idaho to the west, Utah to the southwest, and Colorado to the south. 
 
The western half of Wyoming is mostly covered by the ranges and rangelands of the Rocky Mountains, while the eastern half of the state is high elevation prairie called the High Plains. The Continental Divide spans across the central portion of the state, and intriguingly rivers to the east of the Divide drain into the Missouri River Basin and eventually the Gulf of Mexico, and rivers to the west make their way to the Pacific Ocean. 
 
Almost fifty percent of the land in Wyoming is owned by the federal government, including two national parks (Grand Teton and Yellowstone), two national recreation areas, two national monuments, and several national forests, historic sites, and wildlife refuges. 
 
Before the Europeans came, the area was populated with numerous native American tribes including
the Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Sioux, Shoshone, and Ute. The southwest portion of Wyoming was claimed by the Spanish Empire, then as Mexican territory until ceded to the U.S. in 1948 at the end of the Mexican-American war. In the 1830s, traders and explorers traveled regularly through the territory, creating a route that would later become known as the Oregon Trail. By 1847, the Mormons blazed the Mormon Trail, and between 1840 and 1859, more than 350,000 emigrants would take one of these two trails to Utah, Oregon, and California. When gold was discovered in Montana, even more would come through the territory. 
 
Unfortunately, the influx of settlers led to encounters with the Natives, resulting in an increase in military presence along the trails. Eventually, military posts were established to maintain order. Fort Laramie was one such post, at which the first Treaty of Fort Laramie was signed between the U.S. and representatives of the Indian nations. Between 1866 and 1868 (also called the Bozeman War), the Lakota, Arapaho, and Cheyenne rose up against the settlers, but lost the conflict and were forced onto reservations. 
 
The Homestead Act brought more settlers, especially after Wyoming granted women the right to vote in 1869. The law was an attempt to attract women to the territory in which males outnumbered females six to one. By 1870, over thirty-five percent of the population was foreign-born, coming primarily from Ireland, Germany, and England. 

In 1890, Wyoming became the forty-fourth state to join the Union. 
_________________

About Rayne's Redemption 

Will she have to lose her identity to find true love? 
 
Twin sisters Rayne and Jessica Dalton have been swapping places their whole lives, so when Jessica dies on the eve of heading west to become a mail-order bride, Rayne decides to fill her sister’s shoes. The challenge will be faking Jessica’s faith in God. Can Rayne fool her prospective groom without losing her heart...or her soul?

Flynn Ward fled England to escape his parent’s attempts at marrying him off, but locating a woman to love in the Wyoming mountains is harder than finding a hackney in a rainstorm. Then the Westward Home & Hearts Agency offers him the perfect match. But when his prospective bride arrives, she’s nothing like she seemed in her letters. Is he destined to go through life alone? 

Can two desperate people overcome their differences to find common ground...and love?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3s5jdCp

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Alice H. Patron

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Alice H. Patron

Linda: Welcome to my blog. The premise for your story Rachel’s Valley is intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for the book? 
 
Alice: After reading the book Love Comes Softly, I knew I wanted to write a clean romance that took place in the 1800s in the mountains of the west. 
 
LM: What sort of research was required to prepare you to write the story, and did you find any tidbit(s) you knew you had to include? 

Alice: I had to do some research about what exactly was around in the west in the 1800s and what occupations were common. I chose ranching because I've visited ranches and farms and thought it would be a perfect setting and lifestyle for Rachel and Clint. I had to search for information about ranching in the 1800s, but there are a few things I learned firsthand that I wanted to include in the story. When I was visiting a friend's ranch in Idaho during my college years, one of their cows was having trouble birthing a beached calf. I got to watch as a couple of tough cowboys tugged with their might until the little calf finally was born. It left quite an impression on me, and I knew I wanted to include that scene in my book. 
 
LM: Tell us a bit about your journey to publication and what lessons you learned along the way. 

Alice: I'd always thought it would be amazing to write a book, but I finally found the gumption to do it
when my sister announced she was getting a book published. I didn't even know she had been writing a book! We started a family writing group, and the four of us family members that were most serious about attending the meetings and writing have all been published or are under contract to get published. I'm pretty sure a couple other family members will get books written and published when they can find a little more time for writing. The writing and publishing process has taught me how much I didn't know about writing a book, mainly. It's a lot of work, but so rewarding. I learned it helps - a lot - to have support and advice along the way. Especially if you're meeting every week with published authors. I also learned not to give up. Like most published authors, my first manuscript was not accepted for publication. 
 
LM: How do you balance your writing with the other parts of your life (family, work, etc.)?

Alice: I haven't been able to write much recently. As a stay-at-home mom, I have to constantly adjust to the ebbs and flows in our family schedule and the level of neediness of my children. I look forward to writing in more than just my journal someday! 

LM: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? 

Alice: I love going on walks and hikes, being with my family, watching movies, and playing board games. 
 
LM: Here are some quickies: 

Alice:
Lakes or Mountains for vacation: Mountains 
Dog or cat as a pet: Cat 
Favorite shoes: boots or high heels or something in between: Running shoes in cooler weather and flip-flops in the summer. 
 


LM: What is your next project? 
 
Alice: I've started a couple books with sisters that I'm really excited about. We'll hopefully have them ready to send out to the world soon! 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 


About Rachel's Valley: 

Not long after saying “I do,” Rachel Wood finds herself abandoned by her husband in a mining town in the West. After a year and a half of waiting for his return, she needs to move on. She responds to an ad in the newspaper and becomes the caretaker for two girls in the small town of Breckenridge, Colorado. 

The moment he sees the beautiful young woman climbing into his wagon, widower Clint Harvey second-guesses his decision to hire someone to teach his daughters. But Rachel Wood is just what his girls need. And it doesn’t take long to realize that she is exactly what he needs, too—if only she didn’t keep holding him at arm’s length. 

Clint is the only man who has ever shown Rachel true love and friendship, and it becomes almost unbearable to not let herself fall for him. But she doesn’t want to cause a scandal in such a small town, so she keeps her marital status under wraps. But when she finally receives a threatening letter from her “husband,” she beings to question whether her marriage was even legally binding in the first place. 

Now, she must unravel the status of her supposed marriage before her chance of happiness with Clint has passed—and follow God’s law no matter that outcome, which just might be the most difficult thing of all."

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Sherri Stewart

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Sherri Stewart


Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your recent release, A Song for Her Enemies Where did you get the inspiration for the story? 

Sherri: I have been a fan of Corrie ten Boom since I was a teenager and read The Hiding Place. The atrocities that happened in Europe during World War II have always bothered me—that one man could rally a country to annihilate the Jews. Most of the survivors of the Holocaust have died now, and I’m afraid we’ll forget and become complacent, so I wrote this fictional account of a Jewish opera singer in Haarlem, a small town in the Netherlands. 

LM: Research is an important part of writing a book. How did you go about researching A Song for Her Enemies and did you unearth a particular fun fact you knew you had to include in the story? 

Sherri: I read every Corrie ten Boom book available. The two that I used the most in my book
were The Hiding Place and A Prisoner and Yet. I visited the Netherlands, stayed in Haarlem for a week, and toured Vught, which is one of the labor camps. I also toured Corrie’s house to get a feel for what houses were like in the book. One of the coolest things that happened was the fact that a block from Corrie’s house was a corner bakery and right across the street was a jewelry store. My book is about a girl who lives above a corner jewelry store, and who misses the aroma of freshly baked bread from the bakery across the street because the owners of the bakery vanished in the middle of the night. What are the chances that I’d find a bakery across from a jewelry store so close to Corrie’s? This was a sign from God to me that I should write this book. 

LM: What is your favorite part of the writing process? 

Sherri: Writing The End. Finishing the rough draft is hard. I’m a plantser, which means I write a synopsis of the book and then just glance at it from time to time. So each day when I open my computer to write, I’m not quite sure what will come out, and that makes me nervous. What if I don’t know what to write? What if the story isn’t logical or worse, what if it’s boring? 

LM: What do you do to prepare for writing (e.g. listen to music, set up in a certain location, etc.)? 

Sherri: You’re not going to believe this, but I need noise to write, so I always grab a coffee, sit in my big brown chair, and turn on the television. I don’t want the background noise to distract me so I choose cooking or travel shows, lectures on archeology or world history—that kind of thing. Then I make myself write 500 words. 
 
LM: What is your next project? 
 
Sherri: I am writing the sequel to A Song for Her Enemies. The book takes place four years after the war ended. Tamar is married and the mother of twins, and she’s living back in Haarlem, trying to live a normal life. But someone else is living in the house she grew up in, and they’ve turned her parents’ jewelry store into a dry cleaner. Tamar’s mother had told her years before that she’d hidden some of the family valuables behind a wall grate in the house, so Tamar breaks in. What she finds changes everything. 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Sherri:


About A Song for Her Enemies:

After Nazi soldiers close the opera and destroy Tamar Kaplan’s dream of becoming a professional singer, she joins the Dutch Resistance, her fair coloring concealing her Jewish heritage. Tamar partners with Dr. Daniel Feldman, and they risk their lives to help escaping refugees. When they are forced to flee themselves, violinist Neelie Visser takes them into hiding. 

Tamar’s love for Daniel flowers in hardship, but she struggles with the paradox that a loving God would allow the atrocities around her. When Tamar resists the advances of a Third Reich officer, he exacts his revenge by betraying the secrets hidden behind the walls of Neelie’s house. From a prison hospital to a Nazi celebration to a concentration camp, will the three of them survive to tell the world the secrets behind barbed wire? 
 
A Song for Her Enemies is the story of a talented young opera singer and the bittersweet love that grows amid the tyranny and fear of World War II. Set against the backdrop of neighbors willing to risk their lives in the German-occupied, war-torn Netherlands, A Song for Her Enemies is an inspiring and beautiful novel celebrating the resilience of the human spirit and the determination of Christians in the face of persecution. It is a novel for everyone seeking to understand the pain of the past and be inspired to embrace hope for the future. 


 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Fiction Friday: New Releases for March 2021

March 2021 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
Romantic Suspense/Thriller:


Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman -- Just as Homeland Security Agent Addison Leigh reaches the pinnacle of her cyber investigation into a firearms smuggling ring, she's attacked and left for dead. Her estranged husband, ICE Agent Mack Jordan, is notified that she's at the hospital in a coma. He may have let his past military trauma ruin their short marriage, but she never gave up on their relationship, and he remains her next of kin. hen a second attempt to take her life is made, it's clear something very sinister is going on, and Mack and Addison are in for the ride of their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House)

Unknown Threat by Lynn H. Blackburn -- US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He and his team are experts at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection. (Romantic Suspense from Revell)

Abducted in Alaska by Darlene L. Turner -- Saving a boy who has escaped his captors puts Canadian border patrol officer Hannah Morgan right into the path of a ruthless child-smuggling ring. Now with help from police constable Layke Jackson, she must keep the child safe. But can they rescue the other abducted children and bring down the gang…all while protecting a little boy and keeping themselves alive? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Western:


Braced for Love by Mary Connealy -- Left with little back in Missouri, Kevin Hunt takes his younger siblings on a journey to Wyoming when he receives news that he's inheriting part of a ranch. The catch is that the ranch is also being given to a half-brother he never knew existed. Turns out, Kevin's supposedly dead father led a secret and scandalous life. (Western from Bethany House)

Biblical:


Miriam’s Song by Jill Eileen Smith -- In her eventful lifetime, Miriam was many things to many people: protective older sister, song leader, prophetess, leper. But between the highs and the lows, she was a girl who dreamed of freedom, a woman who longed for love, a leader who made mistakes, and a friend who valued connection. (Biblical from Revell)

General Contemporary:


Facing the Dawn by Cynthia Ruchti -- While her humanitarian husband Liam has been digging wells in Africa, Mara Jacobs has been struggling. She knows she's supposed to feel a warm glow that her husband is nine time zones away, caring for widows and orphans. But the reality is that she is exhausted, working a demanding yet unrewarding job, trying to manage their three detention-prone kids, failing at her to-repair list, and fading like a garment left too long in the sun. (General Contemporary from Revell)

Contemporary Romance:

A Brother’s Promise by Mindy Obenhaus -- He didn’t realize he wanted a family… Until he suddenly became a single dad. After his sister’s death, rancher Mick Ashford’s determined to ensure his orphaned niece, Sadie, feels at home. And accepting guidance from Christa Slocum is his first step. But just as Christa and Sadie begin to settle into Mick’s heart, Sadie’s paternal grandparents sue for custody. Now Mick must fight to keep them together…or risk losing the makeshift family he’s come to love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

General Historical:

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy -- Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women. When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. (General Historical from Bethany House)

The Rose Keeper by Jennifer Lamont Leo -- July 1944. Chicago nurse Clara Janacek has spent her whole life taking care of other people. Grumpy yet loveable, all she wants now is to live out her life in peace, tending her roses and protecting her heart. But beneath the gruff exterior lies a story, and when new neighbors move in and shake up her quiet world, Clara must grapple with long-buried realities. (General Historical, Independently Published )

Historical Romance:


Rayne’s Redemption by Linda Shenton Matchett -- Will she have to lose her identity to find true love? Twin sisters Rayne and Jessica Dalton have been swapping places their whole lives, so when Jessica dies on the eve of heading west to become a mail-order bride, Rayne decides to fill her sister’s shoes. The challenge will be faking Jessica’s faith in God. Can Rayne fool her prospective groom without losing her heart...or her soul? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Curator’s Daughter by Melanie Dobson -- 1940. Hanna Tillich cherishes her work as an archaeologist for the Third Reich, searching for the Holy Grail and other artifacts to bolster evidence of a master Aryan race. But when she is reassigned to work as a museum curator in Nuremberg, then forced to marry an SS officer and adopt a young girl, Hanna begins to see behind the Nazi facade. A prayer labyrinth becomes a storehouse for Hanna’s secrets, but as she comes to love Lilly as her own daughter, she fears that what she’s hiding―and what she begins to uncover―could put them both in mortal danger. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

My Dear MISS DUPRÉ by Grace Hitchcock -- Willow Dupré never thought she would have to marry, but with her father’s unexpected retirement from running the prosperous Dupré sugar refinery, plans changed. The shareholders are unwilling to allow a female to take over the company without a man at her side, so her parents devise a plan—find Willow a spokesman king in order for her to become queen of the empire. Willow is presented with thirty potential suitors from the families of New York society’s elite group called the Four Hundred. She has six months to court the group and is expected to eliminate men each month to narrow her beaus. (Historical Romance from Bethany House)

Sing in the Sunlight by Kathleen Denly -- Richard Stevens isn't who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name. Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey's singing career, her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858 Benicia, California, she finds a man who promises to love and cherish her. Instead he betrays her, leaving her with child, and Clarinda must take drastic measures to ensure her child doesn't suffer for her foolishness. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
 
 
Hunt for Grace by Tammy F. Kirty, Can two people find peace in the present when faced daily with their pasts? (Historical Romance)

 
 
Starstruck in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Heartwarming, emotionally charged saga of a small Southern town's struggle for survival and two women's challenge to balance family and career. (General Contemporary)

 
 
A Texas Bond by Shannon Taylor Vannatter, Learning he’s an uncle shocks Ross Lyles—but after years of handling his brother’s bombshells, at least this surprise is a blessing. A pair of five-year-old blessings Ross is determined to meet, if he can convince their aunt to give him a chance. (Contemporary Romance)

 
 
Matched Hearts by Cathe Swanson, She’s looking for one date. He’s looking for “Happily Ever After.” Is it a computer error or a match made in heaven? (Contemporary Romance)

 
 
Seasons of Love by Joan Deppa, The beautiful, western Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with snow covered hills in the winter; Lake Superior, as well as inland lakes and numerous waterfalls in the summer; and colorful leaves in Autumn, are the setting for three couples who discover new adventures and enjoy the nature that surrounds them. (Contemporary Romance)

 
 
Kate’s Quest by Seralynn Lewis, Sparks fly in this opposites attract journey when a my way or the highway soldier collides with a determined woman on a mission to find her family. (Contemporary Romance)